Book Review: The Silent Witness by Anuradha

History was never my favorite subject. I never wanted to memorize places, wars, their years and genealogy of the rulers. Until, I finished my studies and the bookworm inside me woke up again and now it has gone totally opposite way. The subject I despised earlier, now has become my favorite. Being in northern part of India, the books, references and even pop culture like movies has nothing else but the history of this part only. Even the current historical fiction too are available for this part only. And that made me wonder, what could be the story/ies of the southern states of India? The states where Zamorin allowed foreigners for the first time. The states which ruled thru their spice trades. So I started searching for such books. And luckily I found this one. The Silent Witness written by Anuradha. Synopsis promised this is going to be something different and indeed, it is something that is not read by me since long time.

The Silent Witness tells the story of Kerala. At the time, when Portuguese ruled it.At the time that even a small state like Kerala of today, was not one state but several kingdoms were interlinked to each other by one force or another. Dutch, Samoothiri, Kochi, Varmas and more. The story revolves around Kerala Verma and his brother. Both also known as Kochunni and Kuttan Thampuran. How conspiracies made them go into disguise, how Kochunni meets Unnimaya-a beautiful girl, how the strength of small states proves futile for statesmen of Portuguese. And how they are forced to move out of God's own country.

The canvas is very wide and looking at the page nos. I knew this is not actually a lengthy one at storytelling despite the fact it covers a vast time period. But still, it keeps you engaged because of the freshness of premises. This is perhaps my first ever read which is set in south India. And that make the reading experience unique. Characters like Kochunni, Kuttan and even Unnimaya are writter in a very simple way, not to exaggerate their bravery or beauty. But a well balanced, true to life, take makes it more worthwhile to read it.

Thought I have never been to Kerala, and this was first time I was reading about the area, it was a bit difficult to connect to certain scenes and rituals and even daily chores-which must be nostalgic to a south Indian reader. But still, it is an enriching and refreshing experience to read such things. Anuradha's pen does not master at the action though, and that's why you get to read war sequences in a lighter, non-descriptive way in which scenes move fast and only basic idea is give. But no, I am not complaining here because everyone has their own style.

The Silent Witness definitely takes you out in an unknown land, despite the fact that it is just a leaf out of the history of our country. History - that is full of such leaves which needs attention. And here Anuradha does just that. I would recommend this to all fiction lovers as well as history lovers. It is surely a worthy read.

The Legends of Bollywood : Book review

Dutt Family. One underrated and understated 'film' family about whom very less is written. Maybe, because only one lineage is famous and other family member got lost somewhere in heaps of flop films. Raaj Grover, who was almost a family member to this household of one of the most graceful couple, Nargis and Sunil Dutt, notes down his chronicles with Dutt Sahab's Ajanta Arts, his memories with Nargis bhabhi and other stars with whom he shared a good chunk of his life.

Title 'The Legends of Bollywood' is aptly put. As it starts with (the one and only) Amitabh Bachchan. Very intersting tale of Bachchan's four days leave from job and what he did with Raaj Grover in the city of dreams - a chapter makes a very good start of the book. Which further goes into lives of Yusuf saab, Dharam ji, Baba, Kapoors and Dutts.

An unusual read this is. Because neither this is from pen of journalist, nor its from mind of a star or an actor. But being a producer, Raaj has this advantage of being impartial, and very natural, so that the reader himself doesn't feel deja vu when reading anecdotes about years in which Indian cinema evolved from b/w to stereophonic sound and cinema-scope.

My favorites are obviously of - Dutt sahab and Nargis's tales. Even Balraj Sahni's chapter makes a really good read. Despite the fact we know many bits and pieces of the incidents described herein, as a bolly-lover, it's always a treat to read, repeat, read, and so on. Just one thing I would complaint here is - it doesn't tell us much about baba's dark period. It felt like Hirani has written more than this-despite of being more attached to tbe family.

That little rant apart, this is surely a book for all bolly-lovers outthere. Because some memories are meant to be lingered on.

Oh yes, and by supporting it and buying it, you will help funding the ever serving Nargis Dutt Foundation. What a generous contribution by the author.

Book Review: Tenth Avatar

So, when I posted my last review, I decided no more indian mythology read for a while now. But then, I saw this book by Kanchan Joshi, Tenth Avatar. And then my thoughts changed. And I picked it up for reading. Leaving Gone Girl incomplete, I finished this one in a few days. And it left me craving for more.

This is a story with two stories running parrellel to each other. On one side we see the Ramayana from Hanuman's eyes and on the other, protagonist is a hotshot scientist, maths lover who goes to Higgs Boson experiment like it's his daily playground:Krish. Now, physics and maths is nightmare stuff for me but the author here, takes us on altogether different approaches that makes it really interesting to go to. Even the Ramayan bit is portrayed with all possible scientific reasoning, so that you have logical circumstances instead of Hanuman flying off the ocean or uprooting the mountain to heal Lakshman. Present day story keeps you interested but for a while it takes on your nerves when it goes too much into details of the science physics and maths and what not. 

However I felt there was no need for such long part of Ramayana which goes on for every alternate chapter. It all is deja vu and makes it a wasted opportunity. (Spoiler alert) This track proves only useful when we are almost reaching the end. 

Overall, this is not the usual retelling remixing of mythology with current day fiction but needs some brain cell churning. If you are ready for that ride, hop on. 

 My rating: 3/5